Just Another Day at the Airport!

A round-up of strange tales from the last 100 years at Hamburg Airport!
Wedding Dress Found
Every airport worker knows that his or her workplace is a mini-city that reflects everyday life – anything can happen so they expect the unexpected.  Take, for example, the story of the wedding dress that was found a few years ago in one of the men’s toilets.  It had obviously already been ‘used’, as it was a little dirty and tattered.  This was just one of the hundreds of items handled each year by the airport’s lost property office and employee Catharina Rathjens is not surprised by the appearance of anything, not even a wedding dress.  From chandeliers to pot plants, even a car door… she and her colleagues have seen it all.  “By the way, nobody ever came to claim the wedding dress,” she smiled.  Just how it came to be abandoned in the men’s toilet of all places will remain a secret.
An Owl Passenger
In 1992, Finnair carried the most unusual of passengers – and for free.  A 66cm-high Snowy Owl had ‘taken a wrong turn’ as it left the Finnish forests and, after two weeks of touring northern Europe, was found in Hamburg.  The then Swan-master of Hamburg, Harald Nieß, nursed the one-year-old bird back to health, and the Finnish consul, Unto Tanskanen, arranged a return flight for the owl, which was a protected species.  It returned to its homeland in the cargo compartment of Finnair flight 854 and was released safe and sound back into the wild.
Cargo: One Bear!
In 1975 a bear was seen dancing on the apron – literally!  Bear tamer Dieter Kraml took his bear Nancy from Hamburg to Japan to take part in a research project.  “Before take-off, I had some fun with Nancy.  That’s when this photo was taken,” Mr Kraml recalls today.  His animals have made many film and television appearances, including those Mr Kraml trained for Jean-Jacques Annaud’s 1988 film ‘The Bear’ about an orphan cub who hooks up with an adult male in a bid to dodge the human hunters.  Today, Mr Kraml lives near Hildesheim – with eight bears.
Sheep for Lawn Mowers
An entire herd of sheep used to live on site during Hamburg Airport’s early years.  They weren’t there to be counted by sleepless staff, but to keep the grass on the apron short and the ground firm.  Amazingly, the shepherd, a Mr Brede, kept 500 sheep here.  Their stalls were located in the southern area of the airport, and the shepherd and his family lived near where the Lufthansa Technik Base is located today.  Parts of the apron were already concreted by 1930 and, when the runway surfaces were sealed after World War Two, the sheep were surplus to requirements.
Flags Stolen
A parcel addressed to the airport in the autumn of 1990 contained four flags that used to fly in front of the then main terminal.  An accompanying letter said: “My sons thought that stealing the flags was a wonderfully successful joke.  I, unfortunately, did not!  Please accept our apology.  Mr and Mrs Unknown.”  Though the flags were quickly raised up their respective flagpoles upon their return, just how the thieves managed to remove them in the first place remains a mystery.
The Apron Swimming Pool
Now if that’s not service, then nothing is!
For a while, Hamburg Airport had its own swimming pool located behind the terminal building and towards the apron.  It was originally installed in the park area as a fountain.  However, in the summers of the 1950s, stewardesses from Scandinavian Airlines often used it as a swimming pool.  They brought their bathing costumes with them and swam in the rectangular pool to refresh themselves during the turnaround times for their aircraft – can you imagine crews having time for a swim today?
The pool was eventually demolished during construction work around 1960.